On the Couch with Craig Baldwin

craig-baldwin-arts-review-on-the-couchWho is Craig Baldwin?
A theatre director who grew up in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, went to drama school in New York, works for a Shakespeare company in Washington, DC, and is always on a Greek island in his dreams.

What would you do differently to what you do now?  
I wouldn’t. It’s a good moment right now. Here’s hoping it sticks…

Who inspires you and why?
Right now it is the cast of 4 Minutes 12 Seconds – the play I am working on for the Old Fitz Theatre. It is a not-very-well-kept secret that Aussie actors are the best in the world. Every time I work here, I’m struck by this. Australian actors are playful, passionate, creative and, to be honest, downright ballsy. 4 Minutes 12 Seconds puts all of its characters in the middle of emotionally turbulent, high-stakes moments and then pushes them beyond that. Somehow this cast, led by the ferocious Danielle King (Sydney-siders may have seen her brilliance in much of Sport by Jove’s work), are diving headfirst into incredibly scary psychological territory, and they are doing it without hesitation. Fearlessness always inspires me. I think that is ultimately why I do theatre. To confront fear – within myself and within our culture.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I cannot tell you how difficult it is to take a holiday as a theatre artist. You are rarely paid enough to take a holiday. When you do take a holiday you rarely continue to get paid while on said holiday. And mostly you feel nervous booking a holiday because you know the moment you do will be the moment your dream job is offered to you and you will have to decide between cancelling your holiday and that job (and then if you choose the job, it never turns out as dreamy as you thought it would be). Regardless, for the first time in I-can’t-recall-how-long, I actually just recently managed to take a one-week vacation. I went to P-town (Provincetown) and it was the most magical place. It is a historic small coastal town, artist colony and mecca for the Gay and Lesbian community, in Massachusetts. It sits magically at the very tip of the horseshoe that is Cape Cod and its mystical effects are still calling me back. Also, anyone who wants to send me to the Greek island of my dreams, I wouldn’t say no.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If you mean my current hometown of Washington, DC, I would take them to the Lincoln Memorial. Setting aside the cheesy tourist factor of this famous monument – its stunning Doric columns and gorgeously gargantuan statue of Abe himself (though, those are certainly enough to make the visit worthwhile) – I actually find it incredibly moving. It is a tribute to the President who held the country together through a civil war and abolished slavery. It was the site of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. It is a testament to the project that is America. Say what you will about it, America is a country built on the fundamental idea of uniting a radically disparate group of states (they are still more disparate than you might think) behind a common cause – the freedom and equality of its people. It’s a moving project to me.

What are you currently reading?
Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lake, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 & 3, Colm Tóibín’s The Master, Joan Didion’s Democracy, and more. I am always reading too much at once.

What are you currently listening to?
I just downloaded Frank Ocean’s Blonde and cannot wait to listen to it. I’m also listening to Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi for another project I’m working on. And my guilty pleasure podcast is Throwing Shade which reminds me so delightfully of sitting around with my friends having a good kiki.

Happiness is?
A good day of rehearsal, when everyone is firing on all cylinders and all the ideas are flowing and magic is being created out of thin air.

What does the future hold for you?
4 Minutes 12 Seconds – I can’t think much beyond that at this point…

Craig is directing James Fritz’s 4 Minutes 12 Seconds at the Old Fitz Theatre from 13 September 2016. For more information, visit: www.oldfitztheatre.com for details.

Image: Craig Baldwin